Those were the days eh? You could trundle along a dusty old road and hardly see anyone else, try that now! Everyone nowadays would be tooting and gesturing ‘cos you are going too slow and gone are the days when people would be happy with a little wee caravan- now they’re monsters, in fact a small conurbation on wheels.
One display at the Wimpole at War event which made me chuckle was the American bulldozer and tipper truck… little did they know that just where they’d dropped off the fake rubble was in fact the exact same place where there is a load of brick rubble from a building erected during WWII. We found this out because a trench was dug fairly recently across this section of the East Avenue… maybe a future dig could find out what sort of building it was… my guess is that it was a cook and mess house as there were plenty of coals amongst the rubble.
This brought back memories as, quite some time ago, I was in the Territorial Army and had to learn signalling- we must have been the last soldiers to use morse code. Here’s a bit (quite a bit actually) from Wiki:
“Beginning in 1836, the American artist Samuel F. B. Morse, the American physicist Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail developed an electrical telegraph system. This system sent pulses of electric current along wires which controlled an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph system. A code was needed to transmit natural language using only these pulses, and the silence between them. Morse therefore developed the forerunner to modern International Morse code.
In 1837, William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone in England began using an electrical telegraph that also used electromagnets in its receivers. However, in contrast with any system of making sounds of clicks, their system used pointing needles that rotated above alphabetical charts to indicate the letters that were being sent. In 1841, Cooke and Wheatstone built a telegraph that printed the letters from a wheel of typefaces struck by a hammer. This machine was based on their 1840 telegraph and worked well; however, they failed to find customers for this system and only two examples were ever built.
On the other hand, the three Americans’ system for telegraphy, which was first used in about 1844, was designed to make indentations on a paper tape when electric currents were received. Morse’s original telegraph receiver used a mechanical clockwork to move a paper tape. When an electrical current was received, an electromagnet engaged an armature that pushed a stylus onto the moving paper tape, making an indentation on the tape. When the current was interrupted, a spring retracted the stylus, and that portion of the moving tape remained unmarked.
The Morse code was developed so that operators could translate the indentations marked on the paper tape into text messages. In his earliest code, Morse had planned to only transmit numerals, and use a dictionary to look up each word according to the number which had been sent. However, the code was soon expanded by Alfred Vail to include letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally. Vail determined the frequency of use of letters in the English language by counting the movable type he found in the type-cases of a local newspaper in Morristown. The shorter marks were called “dots”, and the longer ones “dashes”, and the letters most commonly used were assigned the shorter sequences of dots and dashes.
In the original Morse telegraphs, the receiver’s armature made a clicking noise as it moved in and out of position to mark the paper tape. The telegraph operators soon learned that they could translate the clicks directly into dots and dashes, and write these down by hand, thus making the paper tape unnecessary. When Morse code was adapted to radio communication, the dots and dashes were sent as short and long pulses. It was later found that people became more proficient at receiving Morse code when it is taught as a language that is heard, instead of one read from a page.
To reflect the sounds of Morse code receivers, the operators began to vocalize a dot as “dit”, and a dash as “dah”. Dots which are not the final element of a character became vocalized as “di”. For example, the letter “c” was then vocalized as “dah-di-dah-dit”.
In the 1890s, Morse code began to be used extensively for early radio communication, before it was possible to transmit voice. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, most high-speed international communication used Morse code on telegraph lines, undersea cables and radio circuits. In aviation, Morse code in radio systems started to be used on a regular basis in the 1920s. Although previous transmitters were bulky and the spark gap system of transmission was difficult to use, there had been some earlier attempts. In 1910 the U.S. Navy experimented with sending Morse from an airplane. That same year a radio on the airship America had been instrumental in coordinating the rescue of its crew. Zeppelin airships equipped with radio were used for bombing and naval scouting during World War I, and ground-based radio direction finders were used for airship navigation. Allied airships and military aircraft also made some use of radio telegraphy. However, there was little aeronautical radio in general use during World War I, and in the 1920s there was no radio system used by such important flights as that of Charles Lindbergh from New York to Paris in 1927. Once he and the Spirit of St. Louis were off the ground, Lindbergh was truly alone and incommunicado. On the other hand, when the first airplane flight was made from California to Australia in the 1930s on the Southern Cross, one of its four crewmen was its radio operator who communicated with ground stations via radio telegraph.
Beginning in the 1930s, both civilian and military pilots were required to be able to use Morse code, both for use with early communications systems and identification of navigational beacons which transmitted continuous two or three-letter identifiers in Morse code. Aeronautical charts show the identifier of each navigational aid next to its location on the map.
Radio telegraphy using Morse code was vital during World War II, especially in carrying messages between the warships and the naval bases of the belligerents. Long-range ship-to-ship communications was by radio telegraphy, using encrypted messages, because the voice radio systems on ships then were quite limited in both their range, and their security. Radio telegraphy was also extensively used by warplanes, especially by long-range patrol planes that were sent out by these navies to scout for enemy warships, cargo ships, and troop ships.
In addition, rapidly moving armies in the field could not have fought effectively without radio telegraphy, because they moved more rapidly than telegraph and telephone lines could be erected. This was seen especially in the blitzkrieg offensives of the Nazi German Wehrmacht in Poland, Belgium, France (in 1940), the Soviet Union, and in North Africa; by the British Army in North Africa, Italy, and the Netherlands; and by the U.S. Army in France and Belgium (in 1944), and in southern Germany in 1945.
Morse code was used as an international standard for maritime distress until 1999, when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System. When the French Navy ceased using Morse code on January 31, 1997, the final message transmitted was “Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.” In the United States the final commercial Morse code transmission was on July 12, 1999, signing off with Samuel Morse’s original 1844 message, “What hath God wrought”, and the prosign “SK”.”
I can still remember morse code and was pretty fast at it but, as we were learning this outmoded form of communication (the enemy could get a fix pretty quickly on the signals so you wouldn’t have lasted long), the new digital equipment was coming in, all top-secret then… but now, everyone has one, it’s in your pocket!
Another skill we learnt was to make and use explosives; now that was pretty good fun and the lasting memory of one of the courses was the huge formulae you had to use to calculate how much plastic explosive to use on bridges etc. There was a ‘p’ at the end of the formulae and the question was raised as to what this was… the reply?… “P for plenty more”!
Of course you can’t forget the old farming equipment, old to us but state of the art then. Just imagine how long it took to get the harvest in! I have a green Fordson Standard N with narrow wings. The narrow wings mean that it was produced during WWII as it saved metal compared to the original wide wings. These tractors were run on petrol and TVO (tractor vaporising oil). When you first start the tractor it has to run on petrol and, as it gets hotter, it then can use the TVO (which apparently was a by-product).
Start of the week was as usual… stoning the track from Cobbs Wood Farm, when will it end?!
Phosphate, that’s what this is. As we loaded up our tractor and trailer so the agricultural contractor “Law” filled his monster machine with bone phosphate. This is apparently the only phosphate that the organic farm can use. Over a hundred years ago British farmers were using the same stuff and looked for bones across Europe and elsewhere, even apparently robbing mass graves!!!! They were known as the ghouls of Europe no less. Further information on phosphate can be found in Bernard O’Connor’s publication which mentions the bone phosphate but mainly deals with the coprolites which replaced bones in the late 19th century. Even the 4th Earl had open-pit mines on the estate (think I need to blog about coprolite mining on the estate shortly).
Back to the Woodyard to finish clearing up and poisoning the tree stumps (can’t be letting the stumps grow again only to then have to cut them down again some years hence). Used glyphosphate aka Roundup and blue dye (this area is not organic so that’s ok).
Who said the Keystone cops weren’t alive and well? Here’s the proof they are still around racing wacky vehicles from a long-lost time. This poor old vehicle was here the last time we cleared the Woodyard but, instead of clearing it away and scrapping it, I left it… still much the same as it was the last time I saw it. Albert who has worked on the estate since he was a nipper remembers the vehicle lying in the exact same spot but in better condition, that was almost forty years ago!!!!!! Apparently it was the Woodyard estate vehicle but what make was it and how old?
Having trawled the internet it appears that the vehicle in question is a Bedford, but what sort? At first I thought it could have been a post war ‘O’ series but Barry, who volunteers in the Hall and is interested in old vehicles, thinks it’s older; so a little more looking needed and it might well be a WHG type with a tipper body (definitely a tipper though, and short wheel based), just the sort of vehicle that would be useful to the estate. Shame the engine’s long gone but it did have a number plate…
Now, the interesting thing about the number plate (and something I did not know) is that the last two letters -MF- tell you where it was registered. So we find out that MF means it was registered in the London area. I wonder if we can fix this one; even John with his mechanical skills could be pushing his luck. So it appears that this old vehicle is a Bedford tipper and it was from London and probably was a WHG or WLG type from the 30s.